On the 16th of October, European Network for Academic Integrity joints the Global Ethics Day and International Day of Action against Contract Cheating.
Contract cheating is nowadays perceived as the most serious academic integrity issue globally. Students are being seduced by aggressive advertising campaigns to outsource their assignments. An excellent study of Wendy Sutherland-Smith and Kevin Dullaghan shows that you don’t always get what you pay for: Quality is often poor; works are delivered late and companies retain your personal data to blackmail you in future.
Here is the abstract:
Contract cheating sites advertise that they provide high quality, undetectable, bespoke work delivered in a timely manner to students purchasing their assignments. This paper tests contract cheating sites’ promises about the products they sell. We built on previous reported research examining contract cheating sites’ persuasive features which were mapped into three major dimensions. In this study, we explore how those dimensions are realised in practice. By purchasing 54 assignments from 18 different contract cheating sites across a range of disciplines, we found contract cheating sites’ promises flawed. Many sites do not deliver assignments on time, or at all; they provide variable quality assignments (including fail grade work), and do not necessarily respond rapidly to user queries. When markers graded work, 52% of cheated tasks failed to meet the university pass standard. Furthermore, many contract cheating sites retain the right to share personal details with third parties under their privacy clauses and require levels of personal identification that leave users vulnerable. Students need to be aware that contract cheating sites’ slick advertising is not necessarily borne out in reality. Universities can draw on this study’s findings for student awareness and deterrence campaigns pointing out the risks of using contract cheating sites.
An analysis of contract cheating market conducted within a diploma thesis of Veronika Králíková shows that the practice in Czechia is very similar. Poor quality, late delivery and risk of being expelled from university.
The diploma thesis is in Czech, here is the English abstract:
This diploma thesis analyses Czech market with fraudulent seminar and final works. It creates an image of subjects, supply, demand and the overall market functionality. The literary research explores fraudulent behaviour, risks faced by students, and legal aspects. The practical part is based on the analysis of companies that work on the order, the questionnaire survey to obtain the primary data and the in-depth interviews.
A more detailed analysis stemming from the diploma theses by Tomáš Foltýnek and Veronika Králíková was published in the International Journal for Educational Integrity.
Here is the abstract:
Contract cheating is currently one of the most serious academic integrity issues around the globe. Numerous studies have been conducted, mostly in English speaking countries. So far, no such research has been conducted in Czechia, and consequently there have been no specific data available on Czech students’ fraudulent behaviour. For this study, we created a questionnaire to obtain primary data on student usage of essay mills and their self-reported exposure to contract cheating. The questionnaire focused on students and graduates of Czech universities and collected a total of 1016. Of that number, 8% of respondents admit having engaged in contract cheating. The questionnaire responses yielded useful information and insight into students’ attitudes regarding contract cheating and the extent of this phenomenon in Czechia. We now know more about their reasons for contract cheating and have insight into their thoughts regarding possible discovery.
European Network for Academic Integrity provides a wide range of educational materials for students, teachers and other stakeholders. Students, who are not confident with their writing skills, may approach their supervisors, ask for support at their university, or use some of the ENAI materials. We specifically recommend these:
- Contract cheating: The promises, the realities and opportunities for detection (Wendy Sutherland-Smith presents her study in a 90 min video)
- Why do we even give sources? – A list of reasons for good practice maintaining integrity (document)
- The other day in the cafeteria -rumours about plagiarism (document)
- How to remember what you read? (short video)
- Tips to avoid accidental plagiarism (short video)